So. I underwrite. Not a wasted word or overstated sentiment. Which is grand, except that sometimes it renders what I write incomprehensibly abstract, obscure, evasive.
So here are two poems that centre round the same idea of emotional return. The shorter one I wrote first. And then a friend remarked upon the abstract nature of what I write and I saw that, for what it sometimes is, a kind of cowardice. So I wrote the second one.
As ever, all feedback humbly appreciated.
heard the wheat rise with the sun,
flirted with your well shaped phrase.
Dreamed these pictures,
read the signs;
salted squash to watch it weep,
shared cheese, broke bread, kept the faith.
Counted the stars,
heard the song;
I can see Saturn’s oceans,
a boat house lying empty,
packed tack and stored limes,
the perfect stormy course.
My great grandad; short, yorkshire stone and dour, back from war.
His spoils; medals, a hatred of adventure, a gift for his youngest.
For the twelfth child of a long settled traveller; badly housed, poor;
a treasure wrapped in muslin, in a oxo tin. A diamanté watch.
And a stew of phrases; san fairy ann, TTFN, the quality of mercy.
But une montre to wear with dark hair, blue eyes, flappers beads,
to time her batting for the county team, for dark-room work days.
Till the workings failed and it shone only in the past tense.
She told this last grandchild of that watch, of other ways and roads.
Over years we scrapped carbon from toast, watched blossom fall
and she taught me all the French she knew. Merci beaucoup.
Ca ne fait rien. A demain. Je t’aime. If it pleases you?
And it pleased me, the shape and taste of it; pictures in my head.
Hungry then to learn and for adventure. To get beyond the 31 bus.
Her lifetime condensed to highlights, thirst and hunger. Defiance.
Added a colour animation to this shy clown; my own subtitles.
I planned and dreamed and grafted. That working class imperative.
Ambition aimed me, set my sights on London on the way to Paris.
The south of England brought sandals in October. Freedom. Debt.
A taste for cheap wine. Love for a man with blue eyes and dark hair.
As I fell I forgot that unconditional love asks nothing and gives all.
I stayed with him because he asked it. Gave in, gave up; got lost.
London was enough I said and used false reason to kill hope.
In others nightmares I found restless sleep and sadness. Ennui.
An echo from a London friend brought me back through years.
“Birds and snakes. An aeroplane. It starts with an earthquake.”
Again I burn toast, listen to the radio and shop for a watch.
I stand on the shoulders of my own gods and dream in colour.